múm - Summer Make Good
múm’s work has been described as a musical accompaniment to the cinematic world of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and that’s as good a description as any, considering that they both thrive on producing a grotesquely-decaying, and distorted atmosphere that somehow doesn’t leave an awful taste in one’s mouth. Two years after album Finally We Are No One won múm a legion of fans with their densely-layered textures and ambient, highly sensual soundscapes, the Icelandic collective return with another long player, and thankfully it as just as good, if not better than their last effort.
Summer Make Good is, given the nature of múm’s recordings, a piece of work that is better viewed as an album in its entirety as opposed to a collection of songs. It clearly aims for a target greater than the sum of its parts, and that without question is múm’s charm. Summer Make Good seems to exist in some soft of de-contextualised world of ambient, organic sounds fused together to form a stark, isolated adventure in eerie loneliness. As an album, repeated listens will serve the fan more. The musical hooks aren’t immediate, and with the exception of the single Nightly Cares there is deliberately a lack of any album standouts.
múm clearly believe that surrounding environments help to create the atmosphere recorded for the finished product, as Summer Make Good was written in a remote lighthouse in Galtarviti, which is in the north-west of Iceland. Apparently, the album was then recorded over seven weeks in an empty weather station beneath the circling beams of another lighthouse in Gardskagatá, a place in an opposite corner of the country.
Whilst there is something relaxing about Summer Make Good, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking it a comparable album to Zero 7’s When It Falls or Moon Safari-era Air, as there are no warm melodies or overtly-digital electronica at play. In fact, those lucky enough to own the vinyl version of the album can experience it in total analogue fashion; no digital mastering was used. This is heightened by the variety of non-electronic instrumentation featured on the album, such as glockenspiels, accordions and banjos. The vocal work, deliberately distorted to sound like some sort of alien child, further alienates the listener, and the abstract track titles do little to provide common ground. Whilst you’d struggle to find any of múm’s cuts backing any advertisement or television promo, you’d also struggle to ignore them after repeated listens, purely because they offer something so very different as a listening experience. Seeing as Summer Make Good is arguably their finest work yet, it therefore has to be recommended absolutely.